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  • Exercise addicts, how do you cope with getting old?
  • thegeneralist
    Full Member

    <warning: whiny **** content>
    For 35 years I’ve been into obsessed with sports. Started with rock climbing and some MTB, then did loads of paddling, skiing, boarding and other bits and pieces. Apart from sleep, and family, it’s the most important thing in my life. Actually it’s pretty much the only thing in my life.

    I’ve had some amazing trips and adventures and pushed myself to do some bloody awesome things ( punter level things, nothing even remotely impressive 🙂 )

    Because I only [ semi] discovered training in my 40s ( well it wasn’t really training, just putting more effort in) I didn’t have any decline in ability. In fact I was fitter at 45 than I ever have been. ( no great achievement as I was always mediocre) and I managed to tick off loads of ambitions.

    Nothing impressive or special, but fun stuff that pushed me to what I was capable of..
    I did 4 day weekend in UAaE years back with only 2 days holiday. Overnight flight, drive to Oman to go deep water soloing, DWS on day 2, then drive to another crag in the evening, more climbing at midnight by headtorch, climb the next two days then overnight flight back to Manc to pack the kids off to school before work. That’s what I lived for.

    Fast forward 5 years and now I’m **** useless. Part of it might be ‘rona, a huge part of it is lack of sleep* and the rest is being 50. Either way I’m just not able to cycle at anything the level I used to, or for the length of time, or as often.

    When we paddled in Norway years ago, we went skiing on our rest day. When I did a week rock climbing in Provence 7 years ago we cycled up Ventoux on our rest day…

    Nowadays I can’t even manage more than one medium/ big ride in a row. I was looking forward to this bank holiday weekend not so I could head off on Friday for 3 days action packed adventure, but just so I could get some rest. On Saturday I did a heavy bouldering session, yesterday I watched my son play football and today I’ve done **** all. Like really, **** all. I’ve literally cooked two meals, tidied up a bit and cycled continuously through snowheads, UKC and STW forums since 9am this morning.

    I used to go through phases of weeks or even months on an exercise high, doing loads of stuff. Inevitably I’d bonk at some point for a few weeks but the high points were awesome. But I haven’t had a proper sustained high for at least a year. I’m just drifting along listless and useless.

    Coming back to what I said earlier, actually there are other things I like. I love speaking foreign languages, I love numbers, spending time chilling with family or friends. BUT I need my exercise as well, or in fact first. I cannot properly relax until I’ve done something.

    But it’s become apparent that is no longer possible. I’ve not really got the oomph for more than one middling effort a week, and I know that I’ll now never manage that sextuple metric ton or that off road Everest. Doing a hundred problems at ‘bleau is a fast receding fantasy. Instead it’ll just be loads of diminishing returns, surfing the Internet and being a **** waste of space.

    So, tell me people. How can I cope with transitioning from a mediocre wannabe to a decrepit bitter old man?

    How do you cope with not being as good as what you were? With never again having that feeling of euphoria as you overcome a hill, a climb, a rapid, a couloir that you thought was too hard, but actually turned out to be just doable.
    WTF do you do with your time?

    PS. “**** off and get a grip” is a perfectly acceptable response.

    Full Member

    Ride somewhere new to you. Works for me . 64 and three quarters.

    Full Member

    Get older and slower? Im 61 and have ridden 300 miles a week for 3 months with all my camping kit. I met a chap in his 70s doing the same thing

    I dont get wheels in the air on my bike anymore. I hardly drink alcohol. I learned to pace myself and not push too hard.

    I too get twitchy if i dont get my time outside and i need a lot of it but being unable to exercise is not something that is inherent in aging until you get into your 80s and even then mild exercise is still perfectly possible

    Pace yourself i guess is the key

    Free Member

    Rage rage against the dying of the light.

    That or an ebike and the U3A ramblers.

    Full Member

    You got a touch of depression?

    Full Member

    It’s all relative isn’t it. Was it the amount of exercise, the intensity of it that you enjoy(ed) or the fact it got you out the house and did stuff?

    For me it’s a combination of all three but primarily getting out and enjoying what mother nature has provided.

    I’ve never claimed to be quick but my fitness levels have definitely dropped off over the last 3-4 years. I expect it’s a combination of less cycle commuting and maybe the after effects of Rona.

    As an example I went on a ride today that took me 4 hours and I’ve done in the past loads of times and quicker. Really enjoyed the views and getting out, but didn’t enjoy feeling really slow. Plus when I got back felt knackered.

    But I’d still rather get out and be fat and slow and enjoy the views, than sit at home watching crappy TV or playing on the computer all day.

    Edit: Forgot to say, that if I don’t get out enough I’m even more of a grumpy arse to the family than normal. Glad I’m doing the 100 days until Christmas as it’s getting me motivated.

    Full Member

     the rest is being 50

    Get over yourself. That’s not old. 🙂

    I’m just not able to cycle at anything the level I used to, or for the length of time, or as often.

    These are not all the same thing. You just need to weigh up intensity vs duration and decide which is more important to you.

    FWIW I recently bought myself a small drone. It encourages me to go on “interesting” walks and rides where I’ll stop to film/photograph stuff. That reduces intensity and gives my mind something other than exercise to stimulate it. Birdwatching/geology/archaeology etc are all ways of making something out of being outdoors. For instance, I love finding and exploring old tracks. I do some volunteer work for Scotways too, linked to the latter, so I’m also “giving something back”.

    Free Member

    How do you cope with not being as good as what you were? With never again having that feeling of euphoria as you overcome a hill, a climb, a rapid, a couloir that you thought was too hard, but actually turned out to be just doable.

    59 and I ride singlespeed, so I blame always being in the wrong gear, though I did manage 30 pretty tough miles saturday morning in just over 2:40 with two breakfast stops. Also I tend to ride more little and often these days.

    Full Member

    Pace yourself i guess is the key

    I’m going to take this advice on board. The wife keeps telling me that I’m way too yang with my exercise and need to go a little easier. Only 52 but can definitely feel a slight decline, especially my physical strength which I feel is declining faster than my fitness.

    Full Member

    Further to what scotroutes says the last ten years i have been looking for neolithis archeology to give a point to walks and cycle rides.

    Also picnics. Lots of good picnics

    Free Member

    50 was no problem for me.59 however, has been a real downer.Get out there before bits of you start falling of.
    For a change and a bit of support, why don’t you join the 100 day challenge.It might get you started again.

    Full Member

    Off road Everesting is overrated:

    Free Member

    Get on the roids

    Full Member

    Testosterone drops quickly post 40. One of the biggest issues with drop for athletes is recovery time and how you feel after exercise.

    Worth having a look into some natural ways to increase.

    Impacts men as well as women.

    Spend time with some old people that still have it and they will put you to shame and inspire you at same time. 70 yr old lady deadlifting my bodyweight gives me push to never give up.

    Full Member

    I’m a bit the same – first big skiing crash for aaages in February (month off) and then COVID in July/AUgust (another month off) and I’m now miles off what I was last year, even

    I’m 57 and I think it’s just going to take a long while to get back on – maybe some “proper” training too, for once.
    I also think  have a bit of the brain fog going on; not so easy to concentrate at work and when riding I have a feelig that I just let my focus drift a bit and end up not going as hard as I should.

    Still, I’ve had a good innings …


    Full Member

    You can’t compete with your younger self, but you will have a massive stamina and mental experience advantage over that guy after all those years working hard.

    Point your efforts to things that require long effort stamina and you’ll soon feel satisfied with what you can still do.

    Free Member

    Part of it might be ‘rona, a huge part of it is lack of sleep* 

    I’ve had a few moments where I’ve had a massive drop off in fitness, and every time I’ve thought ‘this is it, I’m old and done for’, and every time so far the real reason has been lack of sleep. Get that sorted first and see how things pan out

    Full Member

    Ride somewhere new to you. 

    Yep good idea. Have actually been trying to do that but finding the travelling hard work!

    You got a touch of depression?

    Yes, I’m a complete mess. Have quite a lot of self loathing and a history of using exercide/ ticks/ challenges as a crutch for my low self esteem. I’m basically kryton but with a lower FTP! I’m not as bad now but I recall going to Gisburn and doing a lap in semi winter, it was shit, so I did another one, and another one, and I think a fourth. Which was just as shit as the third one, just slower. It was just a way of punishing me for being me. Some of the time it was a huge positive, like when I did the WHW, that was great and put my demons back in their box for a while. But….
    I have some stupid skin condition that makes me itch when I’m tired. I take antihistamines but if I’m bad it really doesn’t make any difference. I just doze and dream of itching, and wake up itching and it just gets worse. Then when I’m tired is when the demons come out again. I get into a spiral of rubbish. I’m tired today. I think the itching is psychosomatic. My mind does it because it knows I need sleep, and without sleep I am lost.

    Was it the amount of exercise, the intensity of it that you enjoy(ed) or the fact it got you out the house and did stuff?

    Initially I was the adrenaline from the adventure sports. The feeling of completing a scary climb, or paddling a scary rapid or dropping into a steep Gully. That feeling of sheer terror and then the rush as that terror and elation and adrenaline combined. Then I moved away from the risky stuff and took the satisfaction from the physical challenge. Being in the wild is part of it, but only a part. Sitting on a bench outside Jacksonville ain’t gonna do it for me.

    For a change and a bit of support, why don’t you join the 100 day challenge.It might get you started again.

    My immediate response is that isn’t the problem, its the opposite problem. I’m not fit enough to do as much as I want, so 100 enforced days won’t help. But actually, doing some tiny bits of exercise just because, rather than as a goal might help.

    Full Member

    I’m approaching fifty. What’s currently working for me is losing the feats of endurance mindset that seems to dominate cycling/running to leave me enough energy to exercise 6 days a week. Look at other forms of exercise and set yourself some goals. For example, I’m trying to: * become more competent at trials riding * hold a free standing handstand for over 5 seconds * do 3 sets of 10 pull ups * lose that shoulder issue * run 10k once a week * cycle commute 50 miles a week without tiring myself out. Sometimes seems unrealistic, sometimes seems quite close! My motivation are my two young boys, I want to maintain my physical ability so that by the time they’re old enough for more physically demanding activities I’m still capable and able to enjoy it alongside them.

    Full Member

    Lols at Mike. That’s awesome 🙂
    You got the Local Legend too!

    At risk of dragging the thread off on a tangent, was it all rideable up?
    Was it interesting descent, or easy?
    I’m trying to work out if there exists a track that’s rideable up but sufficiently techie to need an MTB in descent.

    Full Member

    FWIW, I’ve just turned 65, ride around 30 miles a day, with 2000+ feet of climbing, on an mtb, with about 75% off-road. Do pretty much the same route most days, the one I’ve been doing for around 25 years. Still absolutely love it. Don’t compare myself to how I was x years ago, as I was always crap. The only thing I do differently now is I usually stop for a coffee halfway round. Make of that what you will…….

    Full Member

    Get some help for your head. If your leg was broken you would go to the leg doctor so if your head is broken go to the head doctor.

    I have done so and it helps

    Full Member

    take up cycle touring. ride slow, ride far not fast.
    ride with your wife, ride with your kids, i now also ride with my grandkids.

    i have done sport all my life, including pro rugby league. but i cant run a mile. i also cant cycle at 15mph for very long.
    but i can cycle at 10mph all day. so 100 miles a day is still achievable if a want it to be.

    embrace the journey.

    Full Member

    When I was young I was near to where you were when You were young. OK I wasn’t that good or that energetic. I did some great climbing. A few bigish adventures. Driving to Tanzania, 3 months cycling in the USA followed by cycling through the South Island of New Zealand followed by a 60 day trek in the Everest region. But I would say I wasn’t goal focused. I did some great climbs but it was never about the next grade

    In my 30s it all collapsed. Kids, tendonitis every where plus some work stress. But loads of it was just my having the wrong attitude

    But it did reset my adventure threshold. Doing a multi pitch severe with my son at Tremadoch was more of a buzz than all the Gogarth extremes. I remember being sat at the cafe in Grizedale wishing I could ride the trail centre (tendonitus in my foot that day). Years later I breezed round with my son. I’m way beyond that cycling wise now but every single ride is an adventure. I’ve done 3 x 1 hour rides this week as my back flared up a bit. But each one still felt amazing

    So it’s all perspective

    From where I am you seem to be doing brilliantly. Quite annoying in fact. Always out doing great routes

    I know it sounds stupid. But it’s all about feeling the moment

    Yesterday I learnt my bike over for a couple of crappy little corners. But I just felt the bike rail round. You have to let go of thinking about longer and faster as it just wrecks what you have got in that moment

    I sort of started to get it when I could climb a bit. We kind of wrecked some ones day by getting pissed at lunch time then doing the Dervish (not our finest hour). Hardly flattering for the team behind us for whome doing the route was a big deal.

    But climbing is full of those moments that put you in your place. You go for a hard lead and some one solos down a higher grade route next to it. You feel clever as you’ve gone to Ravenstor on a wet day and you link some moves on a 7a, but then a bloke you know from Manchester turns up and redpoints Mecca, then hardest route in the country (this literally happened). You think it’s great because you’ve done technical master but that counts for nothing as Dawes did it in trainers

    So in the end you have to forget the grades and the times because unless your Adam Ondra or Pauline Ferrand Prevot it’s all a bit disappointing

    Instead we have to learn to love doing what we’re doing because we love doing what we’re doing

    Oh and mindfulness really helps me. Ask if you want to know more

    Full Member

    I fenced competitively.

    When I was 24 i just couldn’t get the same hits I could when I was 18 to 21.

    I just didn’t have the speed, despite more training.

    You’ll be fine, just stop comparing your self to something you are not.

    My reactions are never going to be the same as 18 year old me. I don’t fence anymore as it’s an actual fight and there is always a winner and looser.

    I love the mountian bike as you can me the fastest up this hill today, or it might be your mate. Or down that hill, or round that corner.

    I’d suggest a coach+ structures sessions if you want to build your fitness. If you don’t try, you won’t know if it works for you and your life style

    Full Member

    So, tell me people. How can I cope with transitioning from a mediocre wannabe to a decrepit bitter old man?

    How do you cope with not being as good as what you were? With never again having that feeling of euphoria as you overcome a hill, a climb, a rapid, a couloir that you thought was too hard, but actually turned out to be just doable.

    Honest answer. I have a mixed group of friends, spending time with those that treat a pint and roll up as cardio makes me feel superhuman and gives me a sense of perspective.

    I try to enjoy myself, take the odd win against younger riders (last year as a Veteran) and hope injury number 257 doesn’t play up.

    Free Member

    After my first two unpleasant Covid vaccine jab reactions in April and June ’21, followed by ~3.5 weeks of proper flu in October, I got to the point where I got fed up with trying to boost my power numbers and then lose a chunk.

    I then started simply riding everyday for at least 25mins, usually very steady, mostly turbo Nov-Apr. From January I started doing sub 20min Zwift races, using them as workouts to mainly prepare me for climbing the local hills over the summer.

    A fair few of PBs but then the heatwaves came, then Covid/flu hit me for six late July and then I somehow sprained my neck and upper back, putting the brakes on training for ~6 weeks. Still kept riding everyday, just very easy.

    Then out of nowhere I signed up for 7 days of unlimited Zwift use last week and ended up doing just over 16 hours, lots of base, but fair bit of DOMS from the ~100% over my usual weekly time. Motivation from wanting decent cycling legs for holiday next week and I wanted to put a decent effort by my own standards up a 4 mile climb today… Considering the last 2+ months and I’m approaching 49, climb went better than hoped.

    Set targets/goals, but be prepared for things not to go to plan and adapt.

    Full Member

    How do you cope with not being as good as what you were?

    Because: realism, and the aging process. It’s going to happen whether you like it or not, I’m afraid.

    Full Member

    I started doing Crossfit a while ago in my mid forties (just before my divorce started) and got heavily into it, partially because it was an escape from the house, partly because it was a means to an end.

    Yes, the kids/twenty-somethings were all over it as they could recover more quickly and had fewer age related issues with knees and backs and stuff, but they really did lack the experience to say “I’m going to start this a bit slower/lighter and that will mean I can go faster/heavier later”. It really does make a difference when endurance is involved.

    Now though, my motivation has just evaporated. I’ve not touched weights in a long time and Covid really knocked back my aerobic capacity. I am currently trying to make 30 minutes of turbo a daily thing, but work seems to have other ideas and, when you work from home, there’s no escape.

    It’s still better than commuting, but I really do want to be able to get my cardio back.

    Full Member

    In a performance context I find it exceptionally hard.. I’m not getting better, stronger or faster… So i’ve had to change and manage expectations, plans, routes and goals… It’s not what i want, not what i like, but it’s where we are, so what we need to come to terms with.

    Full Member

    I think the OP knows what he need to do… accept that you are aging and get a grip.

    No, that’s wrong… be f’in glad that you are aging… do things you enjoy; don’t compare yourself to your younger self or others and try to live at least one day each week as if it was your last.

    It’s a transformative time. Embrace it 🙂

    Full Member

    I turned 50 this year and think I may have finally accepted the reality of getting old. All that means though is that I’ve come to terms with the limitations that age brings, and that I really need to manage my efforts and be realistic about what I can and cannot do.

    I’ve always been very fit, but up until my late 30s also drank and smoked a lot. This was never a problem, such that I sometimes wonder just how fast/strong/whatever I could have been had I lived a healthier life back then. Anyway, when I hit my 40s things started getting a bit harder but I kept pressing on regardless. Roll on to late 40s and I was constantly injured – calf pulls, sore knees, shoulder problems. Nothing ever seemed to go away for long until I reduced the intensity of my exercise. For example instead of running 2-3 x 8-10km per week at a decent pace, I’ll do 3-4 x 4-6km at a reasonable pace and/or an 8km or so run at a slower pace. Rides are similar. I’ve actually started running with the wife a lot, something we’ve never really done as I always wanted to go faster. Now we find a nice pace that pushes her a little and slows me down.

    I’ve also done a lot of crazy and exciting things in my younger days, but I don’t miss those at all and don’t feel the need to find that buzz. That was a younger, braver, stronger, (etc etc) version of me which I am very proud of but could not imagine doing those things again now. I know it’s a bit of a jokey cliche, but I tend to live my more exciting life through my kids now – I’ll take a lot of joy in seeing them accomplish something small. For example my youngest (11) has just discovered some jumps down the woods and now spends all his spare time there with his mates learning to jump. I don’t go and watch, as that would be far too embarrassing, but I love hearing all the no-doubt exaggerated tales of massive air and heroic crashes.

    I said all of the really to say two things:
    1. You’re getting old, the sooner you accept that and work with it the sooner you’ll find some peace and happiness.
    2. Agree with TJ, you might want to consider talking to a professional to get to the underlying issue.

    Full Member

    I never did much structured training but I read fast after fifty by Joe Friel in my early fifties and it really transformed what I do and how I do it. If nothing else, its a really informative read for people who want to keep doing what they enjoy, good luck

    Free Member

    I know that I’ll now never manage that sextuple metric ton

    Suspect the average age of audaxers is somewhere north of 50…

    Free Member

    Joe Friel is worth a look:

    There’s also massive health benefits in slowing down your aging via exercise:

    Reading some of the comments here a few may also want to check out TRT. I’m 51 & for the last few yrs my mojo had well & truly left the building to the extent I was thinking of selling my bikes. My girlfriend started HRT & bluntly I was jealous & worried about getting left behind! A bit of digging & unsurprisingly (to me) I had low T & diagnosed with hypogonadism. It’s not unusual for men over 40 to have lowered or even low T but you don’t have to live with it if you don’t want to. So the question I asked myself was do I want to feel old or do you want a bit more spring back in your step? I’ve been on it for 6 mths now & initially it was a bit “is something changing or not?” But now it’s light & day & I wouldn’t go back unless health reasons said otherwise. My energy is better, I’ve more confidence, I am for once actually making gains in my training (not huge but any positives are a win for me), my girlfriend is happier. Yes a 100k gravel ride is still pretty exhausting & I will need a day or 2 off after & you can’t turn back the clock but you can sure as hell slow it down a bit..

    Now I know there’s some talk about TRT causing Prostrate cancer. That’s been debunked:

    You do need to have regular blood tests but that’s it.

    If anyone is curious take this test & see what you score. It’s not definitive but it is useful:

    Full Member

    50 is a spring chicken to some of us on here.
    I can’t add much to what others have said, but, I think the ‘pacing’ yourself advice is good.

    On one of the hot days a few weeks ago, I did absolutely nothing. The next day I felt great, the best in years. 50 isn’t old and you’ve got many, many more years of sport to come. Maybe stop being so competitive with yourself, stop drinking, get to bed earlier and take more days off.

    Free Member

    Keep pushing it. Rage against the dying of the light as others have said.

    But trying to compare yourself against a younger you is just daft.

    Full Member

    Leaving aside the mental stuff, I’d third or whatever, Joe Friel’s book, Fast After 50 It’s a good primer on what ageing does for you physiologically and ways of minimising the impact. If you don’t use and train your top end, you lose it. If you don’t do resistance training, you lose muscle mass and strength Your recovery won’t be as rapid as it was. And you need to modify your diet a little. BUT if you know that and train for it, you can keep a load of that stuff for years to come.

    There are plenty of people out there still doing impressive things in their 50s, 60s and beyond. And plenty of people who’ve given up and plod around slowly. Look to the people who are still out there killing it, Nick Craig is still competitive at elite level xc and is now 53. Steve Peters, the guy who wrote The Chimp Paradox is – googles – 69 and an age group international sprinter who ran a 25-second 200m at the age of 66.

    Full Member

    57 and finally did the SDW in a day in July now trying to get out most mornings for a cross country run, up to 11 miles for the longest ones now. Did get to 20 miles in the first lockdown but then started working on the bins and 15  20k + a day of walking and lifting glass boxes saw me just back to one short run a day. Number one tip for getting older, ditch all the Strava and measuring crap and realise it’s the doing it that’s fun not turning into something to share or analyse. I only really record something if it’s a new route and I’m curious as to how far it might be. Who cares how long it takes in comparison to how much fun it is. You really don’t have to make what you do for fun like your job 🙂

    Full Member

    ditch all the Strava and measuring crap and realise it’s the doing it that’s fun

    This is a great point. I do still measure everything but only because I like to keep track of effort etc, partly to ensure I’m not over doing it.

    Totally agree about doing things for the enjoyment, this is key for me these days.

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